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Swingin' into the weekends

Great live music can be heard almost any weekend at venues around the Rogue Valley. There is a good number of local bands that offer everything from rock 'n' roll to reggae.

"But if you don a silk shirt, some two-toned alligator shoes and a shark skin coat, you can entertain listeners with a show along with good music," says Charlie Chase, guitarist for The Mixers.

The Mixers are a jump swing and boogie band whose members make a good living by day, but enjoy their music by night. The group of musicians features keyboard player and registered nurse Gary Halliburton; sax player and business owner Ricardo Salas; stay-at-home dad, drummer and vocalist Mark Stever; bank loan officer and acoustic bassist Rand Mace; trumpet player and welder by trade Jim King; and Chase, who is the deputy state fire marshal for Josephine County.

"We've been around the Rogue Valley for awhile," Chase says. Mace and Halliburton also play occasionally with the Karen Lovely Band, and King played with Blues Express. Stever and Chase played with Chase and the Blues for many years.

"When Chase and the Blues ended, Mark wanted to pursue something besides covers and pop," Chase says. "It was his idea to start playing '40s and '50s swing. But we also play some contemporary stuff. We like to call our sound good old swing with a revved-up attitude."

The Mixers will perform at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 16-17, at 4 Daughters Irish Pub, 126 W. Main St., Medford.

Chase says that after The Mixers got a song list together, the band wanted to make a niche for itself. And, because he and Stever dress much like old-school swingers, they decided to go with the style.

Not that their fashion upstages their music.

"We want to improve the experience," Chase says. "We try to be as entertaining to watch as we are to listen to. So we get our horn section players to swing their hips a little. Some of those old standards are pretty primitive, and we've tried to give them more of a modern feel," he says. "We try to remain as true to what we're doing as we can."

Fans of swing dancing have discovered The Mixers, and sometimes Chase will call out a twist song to the audience. "And they all start twisting."

The band is putting a little money away to record some original material sometime in the future. The members also like to play the regional outdoor festivals, Chase says.

"But I don't think we'll ever quit our day jobs to do any serious touring."

Cover for the show at 4 Daughters is free. Call 779-4455.

Swing and boogie band The Mixers like to mix up great music with their flair for fashion. - Photo courtesy of Mark Stever